**From the July 2020 issue of AOTMP® Insights**

Keep people safe, informed, and connected – and save money while you do it!

In recent months, the migration to enact business continuity plans and activate contingency plans has been amazing to watch. Telecom, mobility, and IT management professionals across the globe have risen to an enablement challenge of unprecedented scale over the first half the year – keeping businesses connected as users migrate to the far edge of the network.

Millions upon millions of people have abandoned offices and hunkered down in a work-from-home configuration. Next up… cost savings and containment.

The combination of costs associated with activating business continuity plans, new technology expenses, and overall economic and business climate pressures have triggered the need for telecom, mobility, and IT management professionals to generate cost savings that support strained budgets. To that end, here are five cost savings tips to get you started:

1. Examine variable charges – daily

Not all telecom, mobility, and IT services are consumed on a fixed fee basis; usage is a variable factor for many technology services. Changes in how technology is consumed over the past several months has introduced new usage patterns which, in turn, have resulted in additional expense.

Perhaps more important than identifying changes in variable charges is understanding the underlying cause. At the top level – use more, pay more – is usually the answer. But that doesn’t always mean it’s the right fit for you. Dig deeper to understand whether these are the most cost-effective options to meet your demands. The opportunity for maximized cost savings may occur in simply guiding users to technologies that meet their needs at a more effective price point.

Other cost savings opportunities come from understanding the drivers behind new consumption trends for each variable cost technology you use. Forecasting usage patterns in the near-term enables you to get ahead of unplanned charge assessments. (It will also help in when executing tips three, four, and five below).

Knowing what the trends are and proactively addressing changes is often more cost effective than reacting to charges that have already been assessed.

2. Suspend idle services

Piggybacking off of tip number one, look at the other side of your consumption equation. Determine which services are not being used, or are being used to a lesser extent now than previously.

Suspending services that are not being used for a short period may be an option. This tip applies to all vendors offering goods and services. Even if suspension results in deferment of cost though contract extension, the near-term impact can be savings of critical budget dollars today.

3. Evaluate mobile connectivity and consumption

Mobile voice and data usage has exploded over the past several months. And – as a result – many carriers have proactively offered additional data, voice, and messaging to help prevent overages. Even if your metered plans have been converted to unlimited plans and no additional charges have been assessed, take a look at your organization’s usage patterns. Recalling tip number one, understanding drivers and patterns of usage allow the most informed decisions to be made.

Two scenarios exist with this tip. First, in the event that mobile services are not subject to variable charges, consider redirecting users to mobile communications options over other options that may be subject to variable cost. Second, in the even that mobile service are subject to variable charges, consider redirecting users to other connectivity methods that are more cost effective.

Take a look at the mobile usage types (voice vs. data vs. messaging) as well as the connectivity device and plan as well. You may determine that tethering to a mobile phone for data with an inclusive data plan is more cost effective than using an air card or Mi-Fi device. Or, the inverse may be best for you. Establishing visibility into mobile connectivity and consumption will shed light on cost containment and cost savings opportunities.

4. Negotiate new pricing, terms, and conditions

New business conditions dictate the exploration of new options and new opportunities. The locked-down, unchangeable contract isn’t the norm in today’s climate. Customers and suppliers must partner to establish a commercial arrangement that enables everyone to navigate through the pandemic and beyond. Businesses should consider everything negotiable and work together to figure out a path forward. Lack of cooperation will hurt the inflexible party.

Recalling tips one, two, and three, explore all options to create opportunity for cost savings through negotiation of new (or temporary) prices, new payment terms, new commitment terms, reduced minimum purchase commitments, different project timelines, etc. The magnitude of business technology changes that have occurred requires rethinking contractual agreements to establish equitable options for the health and success of the partnership.

5. Explore pandemic offers from vendors

All types of telecom, mobility, and IT service providers, suppliers, and vendors are eager to support your business, whether you’re a current customer or not. In this era of uncertainty, consulting services, software trails, and free services offers are being introduced daily. The best way to target offers that could add immediate value starts with understanding the needs and challenges that exist today across your organization.

  • Is broadband unreliable? Mobile connectivity may be the answer.
  • Don’t have the staff to validate invoice charges? A consultant or Telecom Expense Management (TEM) vendor might be able to help.
  • No collaboration software? Perhaps Zoom or Teams can close the gap.
  • Mi-Fi devices on backorder? How about an IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) vendor offering reconditioned gear?
  • Ineffective Mobile Device Management (MDM) policy enforcement? An Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) software trial might fit the bill.

Public offers and trials are common, but don’t limit the potential to just what can be found through social media. Contact your current vendors, tell them about your challenges, and ask them what they can do to help. Revisit suppliers that have pitched you in the past and ask them how they can help now. Engage on social media platforms and ask about offers and options.

And, most importantly, leverage your AOTMP® Membership to collaborate with peers, uncover new opportunities, solve problems, and drive immediate business value.

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About the Author: Timothy C. Colwell

Timothy C. Colwell